DUTCHTOWN — Had the score stayed the same, Hannah Martin’s two-run home run in the fifth inning would have been an afterthought.
A two-run rally by East Ascension in the top of the seventh changed that. When Ali McCoy got back-to-back strikeouts to end the softball showdown Martin’s long ball to left field became the margin of victory.
The four-hit pitching of McCoy and a 10-hit attack that included a four-run second inning and Martin’s homer powered Dutchtown to a 6-4 victory over East Ascension in District 5-5A action Tuesday at DHS.
“I wasn’t sure it went out,” Martin said of her third home run of the season. “Then our first-base coach Yogi (Doyle) told me it was out when I went round first base.”
The game was the first major matchup in 5-5A and marked the first time the teams have met since Dutchtown (5-6, 2-0) claimed a win to over EAHS to advance to the Class 5A title game last spring in Sulphur.
“Scoring first is always huge, especially early in the game like that,” Dutchtown coach Nancy Ensminger said. “I was proud of the bottom half of the lineup because they got that started. That’s a lot of young girls.
“We’re young, and we’ve had some growing pains. This win was so big because they have three hitters at the top of the order who are hard to get out. They’re a really good team.”
McCoy walked five and struck out nine. Four of the walks were the result of pitching carefully to her counterpart, East Ascension’s Jessie Watts. The matchup was a chess game for both teams since the pitchers also swing the bat well.
A two-RBI hit by McCoy was part of the four-run second inning that put the Griffins ahead. Also notable was a new mindset for McCoy, who Ensminger said has tried to do too much.
The adjustment made a difference, McCoy said.
“We have six players who are new on the field, and it’s taken us a little while to adjust,” McCoy said. “I was putting too much pressure on myself. Today, I let all that go and trusted my defense. I think we’re jelling now.”
McCoy was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Taja Landry was 2-for-4, including a two-RBI hit for the Spartans (5-6, 0-1).
“Ali is a good pitcher, and we knew we needed to put the ball in play to force them into mistakes,” EAHS coach Amy Pitre said. “She likes to control the game and so does Jessie. I don’t think Jessie pitched bad. They came out swinging the bats and give them credit for that. They were ready.”
East Ascension got two runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning but could not capitalize. Dutchtown sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, producing six hits. Blayne Pence led off with a double. Leah Spears and Baylee Bourgeois had RBI hits before McCoy knocked in two runs.
Rachel Ducote had an RBI hit and Callie Sholmire knocked in with a groundout for EAHS in the fourth. But the Spartans never got closer than two runs, thanks to Martin’s home run.
The Spartans were primed for a big inning the seventh. Abbey Anderson reached on an error and a fielder’s choice put Claire Weinberger on. The umpires ruled that Weinberger interfered with DHS second baseman Martin on a ground ball by Verlencia Jackson.
That play took some steam out of the EAHS rally. Landry followed with a two-RBI hit to make it 6-4. McCoy then closed out with two strikeouts.